Killing In The Name Of…Posted: November 7, 2009 | |
Getting a lot of interesting feedback regarding my Nidal Malik Hasan post, and wanted to take the time to respond to some recurring themes in the responses. I’m gonna tackle them piecemeal so as to hopefully be more clear.
- In initially writing on Hasan, I opened up the discussion with examples of sociopathic mass murders from all different cultural and ethnic backgrounds and I think my use of sensational figures may have overshadowed some of the point I was making. I used these famous killers to highlight the fact that, in my opinion, their mental health/states was infinitely more important than their cultural background. It wasn’t to say that they were of no relevance; rather, it was to say that they were not of supreme importance. I used names that would grab the attention of readers from jump, but may have erred in the parallel due to the fact that the examples I used were sociopaths in a class by themselves, a group to which Hasan may not belong.
- I don’t get down with Hasan. What he did was of SUPREME wackness and whatever happens to him at this point gets the Kanye Shrug from me. I do care that we not allow his actions to speak for all Muslims. They do not.
- My use of “crazy” was deliberately vague; not because I didn’t care to qualify my statement, but because I was writing/speaking in the conversational shorthand of our day e.g. that’s crazy, this thing is crazy, wow that’s nuts, etc. On this issue, specificity should have ruled the day.
- In my mind, gunning down 43 people classifies you as mentally unwell and it is through that lens that I try to consider someone’s background. When I hear about someone killing an abortion doctor, I don’t think to myself, “See, the Bible made him/her do that.” I think “Oh, boy. Another mentally unwell person has been reading the Bible and freestyling.” Same goes for the Quran.
- Some made mention of the Crusades and said that those who complained about them could not turn a blind eye to the Muslim equivalent. The reader went on to essentially highlight Islam’s violent nature, which seemed to me an indictment of the religion (and the people who practice it). Here’s my take: Islamic extremist and those who go on Christian Crusades are dangerous, deluded individuals who shame their respective faiths. While I understand the texts to be as problematic as they are enlightening, my personal interpretation does not leave room for suicide bombers and those who kill abortion doctors. The problem that arises is not unique to holy texts, but is indeed suffered by any word available to the masses: People read and glean what they want from it. Because it is available to anyone, anyone can read and take what they wish with little to no impunity. In order for ideas and discourse to flow, it has to be that way and we should want it to be that way. Still, the trade is the trouble that comes to pass from given reality. The Bible and the Quran–public texts that deal in the already controversial topic of religion–are often, in my personal opinion, done outrageous disservices by people who interpret them from a terribly skewed perspective for often personal reasons. And some of these people are just mentally unstable.
- A reader brought up the issue of National Socialism in Nazi Germany, making the point that calling all of those individuals who killed millions of Jews–and others–crazy was insufficient and doesn’t give credit to the political ideology. That’s a fair point–and one that makes me regret not defining “crazy” as I see it. Still, a few things should be considered when thinking on Nazism, the Bible and the Quran:
- Whereas the Bible and Quran are documents written in their time that have had the opportunity to develop and be interpreted in various ways over the course of several centuries, the rise and fall of Nazism took place in the last seventy years. As a major political force, it was born, developed and died. In terms of influence, the interpretation of its teachings and policies are limited. There hasn’t been much time to wonder what Hitler and company meant.
- More important than the short terms of development is the language used by the Nazis. They were explicit about what they desired. They wanted to exterminate Jews and went about doing that. People often forget that concentration camps were not the first step in the eradication of the Jewish population in Germany. There’s nothing oblique about what Hitler wanted and (thankfully) not enough time passed to what he meant. I would argue that those who were persuaded by Nazi rhetoric range from the truly sociopathic to the incredibly frustrated soul that needed to feel better than someone and lacked the moral fortitude to not participate in heinous acts of inhumanity. I personally don’t classify that as being ‘well.’
As usual, the discourse and joust is greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.